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L.A. FASHION WEEK

A model's fall from grace turns into a career move

October 22, 2007|Adam Tschorn | Times Staff Writer

A model's plunge through the runway during Fashion Week, captured on video and posted on YouTube.com, has proved to be a hole-in-one for the woman, the fledgling high-end apparel line and the actor who rescued her.

"In a funny way it was the best thing that could have ever happened to all three of us," says Rafi Anteby, the designer of Shadang, who has been fielding phone calls and media inquiries from around the world since the fall last week. The model, by the way, is OK. "For her, because she became a famous model overnight, for me because my line is all about empowering people to find the best in themselves, and for Jimmy, because he was a real hero and saved her."

Jimmy, by the way, is "Heroes" actor Jimmy Jean-Louis.

Here's what happened: The temporary runway for the Who's Next What's Next fashion event was built over the pool at the Skybar in West Hollywood, and the pizza-sized hole was created when one of the Shaolin monks performing before the show did a flip that landed hard.

The video (http://youtube.com/ watch?v=fzg-J2JBB1I) shows the model, Sarah Walsh, hitting the catwalk in a fitted thigh-length T-shirt dress and a pair of heels as Jean-Louis exits to her left. When the model disappears from view, the crowd can be heard releasing a collective gasp, and the camera pulls back to reveal Walsh sunk up to her armpits in the hole.

Jean-Louis turns quickly turns back and helps lift Walsh from the hole, after which she stands up, pulls her skirt back into place and pumps her fist in the air before heading offstage. The posted video then replays the plunge in slow motion, making it seem as if she had unwittingly stumbled back into the orifice.

"No, it only happened once," Anteby said. "She came back out and finished walking, but she just went backstage to make sure nothing was ripped." He said that apart from a few leg scratches, Walsh was unhurt.

The Shadang show "was supposed to be the great finale," Anteby says, "and I guess it kind of was."

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adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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